For a long time, the Sega Genesis has been seen as the edgy older brother to Nintendo’s laid back Super Nintendo Entertainment System, something of a strange fact given that Genesis actually predates Nintendo’s SNES by about two years, but that’s beside the point. Nintendo and Sega were rivals back in the early nineties, so when Nintendo came out with their SNES Classic Edition in 2017, it was all but inevitable that Sega would be coming out with their own similarly priced mini-console to compete.
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It’s starting to look like it might be a dry summer in terms of big game releases, with not a lot of solid releases pinned down. There’s always the chance that a bunch of groundbreaking titles will start lining up their release dates in the coming weeks, but this late in the year it’s doubtful. There’s a precedent for quiet game industry summers. Even if nothing really big happens, plenty of lower key gems are on their way to help us all pass our time in the sun (or out of it).
On some level, it’s curious to me why this From Software game, in particular, has sparked such widespread discussion in the gaming community about difficulty and accessibility in video games. Don’t get me wrong, there are important discussions to be had there, and these games do provide some excellent in-roads. On the software end, none of the From Software games have particularly great accessibility settings, and they are some of the most difficult high-budget games on the market.
I’ve seen several publications in early reviews call “Hypnospace Outlaw” a great “detective game,” a topic which I’ve always personally been interested in as a sort of pet genre. Very few games even attempt the daunting task of conveying a “detective fantasy” of sorts through mechanics and of that small group, there are even fewer who do it well. Laying out clues, planning out lots of possible solutions, allowing for easy process-of-elimination, keeping the player from getting stuck while also not leading them along — it’s a balancing act I respect.
Well, I had a piece planned on “Rainbow Six: Siege” for this week — a little thinkpiece about the whole ‘games as a service’ trend and how “Siege” has managed to both stumble into that model and sidestep the worst parts of it. But after the Activision-Blizzard layoffs, it just feels disingenuous to talk about anything other than the weird, terrible ways this industry is run and the ways it could be better.
As a studio, Respawn Entertainment has grown a reputation for creating pleasant surprises. Their “Titanfall” series is considered by many critics — including myself — to be one of the best shooter series ever made. “Titanfall 2” in particular came out of nowhere back in 2016 with a single-player campaign that was uncommonly innovative and emotional.
“Resident Evil 2” made a lot of waves back in 1998, but looking back at it now, it’s hard to believe anyone was scared by it. Don’t get me wrong, it still has its charm, and if testimonials are anything to go off of, there were plenty of kids and young adults who were outright traumatized by it in its heyday. But even by the standards of its contemporaries, there’s a lot of shortcomings in the original “Resident Evil 2.”
“Spider-Man” for PS4 comes out the gate in the midst of the superhero craze, and it makes for an incredible experience. Being the first “Spider-Man” console game in nearly five years, there were high expectations for the web-slinger’s latest entry. Thankfully, I’m happy to say that many expectations were met and then shattered over the course of this game. An effective way to see the quality of the title is through its narrative. I’ve never been as engaged with a story in gaming as much as this one, as it felt like I was actually playing through a Marvel movie — action and all. As for gameplay, the leveling system encourages exploration, which is thankfully a joy to do. Simply swinging from building to building, doing tricks and exploring New York City is addictive, and it’s exactly what Spider-Man is all about, putting the player into the hero’s shoes even further. Combat — being another important system of the game — is done creatively and effectively, giving a wide array of options and freedom in how to tackle the bad guys. Different suits and gadgets allow for hundreds of combinations and strategies, making for the most customizable “Spider-Man” game ever. If I was able to choose sequels for games from this year, “Spider-Man” effortlessly makes the list: It’s a must-have from 2018. -Kyle Engels
I usually begin these reviews by clumsily burying the lede and attempting to provide some sort of context because I think it’s important. We live in a world of franchises, and while the occasional standalone masterpiece like “Return of the Obra Dinn” will pop up now and again, even it comes attached with loads of baggage. “Obra Dinn” was a “Lucas Pope game,” a personal brand that is rapidly becoming a complex and budding franchise of its own sort. Rarely, if ever, can you fully extrapolate a piece of art from the context that surrounds it. And if you do end up tearing your eyes out to do so, you’ll almost inevitably end up coming back to it.
This week's episode is all about video games. Our columnists Marty Forbeck and Kyle Engels discuss recent titles they've reviewed, while we also touch on games that are closing out the 2018 schedule, including "Battlefield V" and "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate."
Here’s a mystery: How do you build a well-paced suspense story in a medium where you are the investigator? It’s a lot trickier than you might think.
In terms of classic video game platformers, Mega Man has always been the black sheep of the family. Actually, Sonic is the black sheep of the platformer family, but Mega Man is a close second.
Spider-Man feels like one of those series that’s never quite going to get it right — one that always passes the bar for greatness, swings effortlessly around the barrier for excellence, but stops short just a half inch of being 100 percent coherent.
I feel it’s necessary to preface all this by admitting that, as a man who plays a lot of games, I’m not the type of person to anticipate new releases. Games are just too expensive of a hobby, and getting caught up in hype trains all the time is a quick and reliable way to lose your shirt. If I didn’t write this column, I’d never pick up a game the first day it was out. With the exception of Nintendo and a few particularly smart indie game developers, every company drops the price of their games drastically a few months after release.
“God of War” was one of those series back on PlayStation 2 that delighted in being an oddball and benefited from it. It sits up there with “Silent Hill,” “Ico” and “Shadow of the Colossus” as one of those staples that was willing to be a bit more experimental than its contemporaries, playing with mechanics other developers hadn’t before.
A lot of ink has been spilled on the art of how video games make us feel. How they can make us feel powerful. How they can make us feel empathy. How they can make us feel things which we thought no media could ever make us feel.
If you’d have told me a few months ago that Subset Games, the makers of “FTL: Faster Than Light,” were going to come out with one of the tightest, most interesting strategy games ever made, I’d have laughed in your face.
As the most baffling game in the most baffling series ever made, “Metal Gear Survive” has reasonable claim to the title of “Weirdest Game Ever.” But break down the forces behind its creation, and it suddenly becomes one of the most sensical, cynical business decisions made in the video game industry.
Anyone with two working hands and eyes can play “Celeste” and enjoy it without feeling guilty about it.